Dine at some of Melbourne's finest restaurants for a fraction of what you'd expect

Luxe for less: Lui Bar, part of Vue de Monde.
Luxe for less: Lui Bar, part of Vue de Monde. Photo: Dianna Snape

1. Lui Bar

If you've always wanted to inhale Vue de Monde's rarefied air but can't convince anyone else to foot the bill then The Lui Bar's Counter Meal set lunch might be your next best bet. Available from 11.30am-2pm Thursday to Sunday, the offer includes a main course - perhaps confit duck leg with chimichurri, duck-fat potatoes and a waldorf salad -  plus a glass of wine or beer and a "petit sweet" to finish. For $39 a head, you'll also get some of Melbourne's best aerial views and access to some mightily impressive cocktails – if you want to risk blowing the budget.

Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, city, 9691 3888, vuedemonde.com.au

2. Epocha

Because it's is run by an Englishman and a pair of big-hearted Greeks, Epocha's take on the classic Sunday roast concept comes with a generous side serving of warm Hellenic hospitality. For $45 a head you'll get four courses; starting with a selection of snacks, a mid-course (maybe seafood), plus your roast (rotates weekly) and some sides. Like the roast, desserts change weekly too – think chocolate cherry gateau or their popular cinnamon-flecked rice pudding with poached seasonal fruit. Sister restaurant Elyros in Camberwell does a family-style Cretan Sunday spread too ($45pp).

Epocha roast.
Epocha roast. 

49 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, 9036 4949, epocha.com.au

3. Meatball and Wine Bar 

Fashioned on the iconic Meatball Shop in New York City and now boasting three popular locations, it's plain to see that Melbourne diners are partial to a classy set of balls. Head to the Smith Street site (aka Smith Balls) on a Wednesday night and for chump change ($10, instead of $22.50) you'll score a generous plate of spaghetti and housemade meatballs with traditional red sauce, plus some toasted garlic bread to mop it up with. The balls are made with "the wagyu of pork"; Black Berkshire and house wines are $5 a glass.

98 Smith Street, Collingwood, 9416 4421, meatballandwinebar.com.au

Meatball & Wine Bar.
Meatball & Wine Bar. 

4. Entrecote

Look closely and you'll see that South Yarra folks love a bargain too. Reviving the former Lynch's site, this new-ish park-side Frenchie has become the neighbourhood's most coveted perch for fizz-loving locals – especially between the hours of 4-6pm (daily) when Mumm Champagne flows for $12 a glass and freshly shucked oysters will set you back a mere $2 a pop. Nab a spot in the bar or on Le Terrace (which has an awning and heating for the cooler months), and unwind as you take in the passing aerobic spectacle of The Tan.

133 Domain Road, South Yarra, 9804 5468, entrecote.com.au

5. Northern Light

Chef and co-owner Adam Liston's creative "Aus-Asian" menu takes its influences from China (where he cooked for several years), Japan and Korea and he's got a real thing for roasting over organic coals, which means if you love a skewer you'll love Northern Light. Changing weekly, his new set Sunday lunch deal consists of five small savoury courses (designed to share), kicking off with a snack (think spiced prawn cracker with kombu mayo) followed by the likes of spit roast Japanese quail with ponzu or a dish of "nibuta" heritage pork with organic carrots, buckwheat and saltbush. The damage? A snip, at $45 a person.  

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102 Smith Street, Collingwood, 9416 0698, northernlightbarandeatery.com